VENERABLE GLICERIUS LANDRIANI, (1588-1618)
Who is Glicerius Landriani?
To be able to answer this question, it
is necessary to narrate, in brief, a story that will calm down our minds.
Our story starts in the middle of the
XVI century, or in that difficult epoch, and at the same time, glorious Christian epoch, when the Church, shaken and crippled
in her members by the Protestant revolution, begot in her own bosom, a marvelous blooming of saints and she put herself as
a pioneer of an authentic global human progress. It was the epoch where we could see and act men like Phillip of Neri, planer
and animator of the Oratories. Camillus of Lelis, the apostle of helping the grave sick persons, Vincent of Paul, “miracle
of the love to the neighbor”. Charles Borromeus, illuminated actor of the Catholic restoration and father of the poor
and abandoned. Francis Caracciolo, founder together with John Adorno, of the Minor Regular Clerics, and not to be too much
long, Saint Joseph Calasanz, the creator of the free tuition popular school. Precisely, Landriani was one of the first and
most generous collaborators of Calasanz.
Who was Landriani?
By birth, Landriani belonged to a noble
family of Milan. That family was proud of rich Christian life traditions. He was named after a holy
bishop of Milan and the family had added that name to his
famous family name of Landriani. One of his uncles, on the line of his father, Horatius Marsilio Landriani, was a bishop of
Vigevano and a substitute of the Apostolic Delegate Aldobrandini,
in Bolonia. His brother Fabritius was a bishop of Pavia. On the line of his mother, Mrs. Anna Visconti, was a relative
of Borromeus. He was a second nephew
of Saint Charles
Borromeus, and he attended to his canonization in Rome, in
Following the family tradition and trusting
the charitable and pious nature of the child, Msgr. Horatius Marsilius, an uncle of Glicerius, and also his tutor after be
became a father’s orphan at ten, thought of leading the nephew to the ecclesiastical rank. That was how Glicerius; at
the age of 18 received the first clerical tonsure on April 8,1606.
The care of the uncle and tutor did not
stop here. Trying to give to his nephew the necessary financial means to continue his studies and also to give him a title
that would make easy the ecclesiastical career, he gave him the dignity of commendatory abbot of Saint Anthony in Piacenza,
and he ordered the young abbot to move to Rome, by his brother Fabritius, who was already led to ecclesiastical jobs.
He was a conceited and arrogant young man
It was during this time that occurred
the important happening in the life of the young abbot. His biographer tells us that while in Rome, “communicating in
a familiar way, as it corresponded to his blood nobility and to his excellent talents, with princesses, prelates and cardinals,
little by little, the vanity and arrogant feelings grew in him, in such a way that in a short time, his clothes and his head
hair seemed proper of a handsome lad more than of an ecclesiastical young man”.
We do not really know how far was the
secularization of the young abbot, and maybe the biographers with an edifying goal exaggerated that point. It is true that
the commendatory abbot and the honorific titles that go with that dignity; the annual monetary rent and the adulation of the
inferior persons and servants, could destroy even stronger spirits than that of the young abbot of 20 years. Nevertheless,
we are a little opposed to believe the biographer when he affirms: “the vanity took him to such an extreme point that
his conversation was an annoyance and arrogant”.
The ecclesiastical habit is a distinction,
not of predominance or advantages, but of service, of ministry, of humility. But this habit can be considered a hindrance
to those who do not wear it with the true spirit dispositions. Really, during the times, it has been under different temptations
and has been forgotten or put off, for different and diverse reasons, but in substance, born of only one root: the indocility
to the duties of the own state. Was this indocility the evil that entered the
spirit of Glicerius, or was it the subtle temptation, but not less dangerous, of vanity? We cannot say for sure. It was true
that only a warning, as hard as you can imagine, of a cardinal that knew and loved him, that the young man, impelled by his
remorse, would completely change his life. From this moment, he gave completely himself to mortification of himself, to prayer,
to penance. From that moment on, the title of abbot, that before was a pride for, weighted like a cross upon him. In addition,
as a cross, he always carried with him.
From the day when the cardinal warned
him, the charity of Landriani that from infancy was manifested in ingenuous forms, but clear, and that it had remained as
a characteristic inside his soul, was agitated and overflowed as a flooded river. His studies, his career, even his road to
priesthood took a second place. Glicerius leaves the palace of his brother, Msgr. Fabritius, and goes to live in a poor house
with a group of Spanish priests and dedicates completely and without any reserve, to a series of charitable works.
To channel this explosion of generous
charity and to transform it in a generous and perennial fountain, the Providence
will call Saint Joseph Calasanz. The holy priest from Spain, since some
years ago, works in Rome at his Pious Schools, founded by
him and created for the religious instruction and the education of the poor children.
Charity can be manifested in different
forms, according to the inclination of the ones who exercise it and according to the necessities of the persons to whom it
is directed. They are, in fact, expressions of charity to give food to the hungry, consolation to the afflicted, assist the
sick, help the sinners and illuminate those who err. It is an expression of supreme charity the teaching given with love and
for love. Saint Joseph Calasanz had chosen this last road, taking into consideration
and truly that the children of the poor social classes, but not miserable, more than the material bread had a necessity of
a sound and solid instruction that would help, at the same time and in a harmonic way, the growing, or as we say today, the
promotion of the human and Christian man. This was an extraordinary urgency in those times, when many Christians, especially
among the poorest, were tempted by the doctrines and practices that led to skepticism, religious indifference and the rebellion
against the authority of the Church.
In order to assure the success of his
mission, Joseph Calasanz had developed an original pedagogy, whose fundamental principles can be concretized in the following
points: 1) the religious teaching should not be a particular moment of the educational process, but it should impregnate the
whole school activity; 2) the school discipline should not be authoritarian, but rather paternal and loving; or in other words,
the teacher should get the results with persuasion more than through coercion.
We don’t know exactly when or how
Glicerius knew the work of Calasanz, but we know that on May 6, 1621, Glicerius abandoned his home where he had been for two
or three years, and he moved to the Pious Schools, together with five priests, with whom he had been sharing prayers and charitable
works. Among his works, he had been his main charge the redemption of the fallen and repented women, and the assistance to
young people that were in danger of falling apart. Changing the apostolate field, Glicerius showed us that he had understood
the great importance of the work of Calasanz.
In fact, he dedicated to that with the
generosity that was natural in him. He started teaching catechism to the young people and he accepted, with fervor, the job
of Prefect of the continuous prayer during the schooling schedule. When the problem arose of opening the Pious Schools in
the house next to the church of San
Pantaleo, he was the guarantor of the buying with the rent of his abbey, and in spite that he
was rather weak and delicate, he worked carrying the benches and the schooling things, as one of the most humble workers.
In spite of all this, he did not think
that it was enough regarding the practice of charity. Especially he resisted the temptation of vainglory, since he had been
tempted after his arrival to Rome. That is why, one day, without
knowing the Superiors, he gave his clothes to one poor man, and without shoe-wearing and with rags, to went in the direction
of Terni city. For some days, he lived in prayer and through
alms. When he met somebody, he shouted full of joy: “Live Jesus! Live Jesus!”. When his companions realized his
disappearance, they started looking for him with diligence and anxiety. They found him at the door of Espoleto
City and led him to Rome.
They asked him why he had run away and he answered: “To make penance for my sins”.
Long after, remembering that escape, Glicerius used to say that he had behaved like a fool man. Yes,
truly, like a divine fool, fool with the love for Christ Jesus.
Calasanz was, humanly speaking, un-able to control that enthusiasm of charity. Nevertheless, it was necessary
to control it, since for the Regular Life, for a serene and fruitful Religious Community, it is necessary that the charity
and piety might be well disciplined. Then he advised Glicerius to make a pilgrimage, an authentic pilgrimage: this time to
the holy house of Loretto, so that Mary, the Mother of God, would make him understand clearly the specific nature of this
vocation. Glicerius understood very well this suggestion of Calasanz, since he was using the words that were the foundation
of his devotion to the Mother of God. Since his infancy, Glicerius was a devout man of the Virgin of Loretto. In Loretto,
as we know it, is venerated the house that an old and pious tradition relates to the house of Nazareth, the house where the
Virgin Mary received the visit of the Angel and she pronounced the “fiat” (may be done) of acceptance and she
conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, becoming in this way the Mother of God.
Glicerius made the pilgrimage on foot, with devotion, humility, and piety. He stayed for a few days at
the Loretto house, in loving prayer, and he returned to Rome
convinced of his vocation of dedicating himself to the new born family of Piarists. By the way, he understood very well that
the great virtue is obedience to the Superiors, especially when they ask for the renunciation of the things to which we are
attached, because we think them as good and holy. Since then, the obedience of Glicerio was always prompt and blind.
At that time was being ready the canonical creation of the Piarist Family. It was rather a complex thing
and full of obstacles. Calasanz knew that it would be a success if he would go to prayer. Then, he who was a saint and lived
from prayer thought that more than his prayers would be pleasing to God the fervor prayer of Glicerius. That is why he asked
the young collaborator that, on January 25, 1617, feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul, would visit the Basilica of Saint
Paul extra-walls and would pray there for the success of the cause. On March 6 of the same year, Paul V, with a decree, erected
the Piarist Family called: “Pauline Congregation of the Poor of the Mother of God of the Pious Schools”.
Receiving the habit
After the new Congregation was erected and determined the habit, the Holy Saturday of that year, on March
25, the Cardinal Protector gave the habit to Calasanz and Calasanz gave it to fourteen collaborators. But among them, Glicerius
Landriani was not one of them.
We don’t know the reason of this exclusion. Some think that since he had a title as abbot of Saint
Anthony of Piacenza and Glicerius received some rent, it was
an obstacle for the vow of poverty. Glicerius had tried several times to renounce everything, but the title and the rent were
kept by the will of the Pope.
We don’t mind about the reason why he was excluded. What is most important for us is that Glicerius
accepted with docility the decisions of the Superiors, although it might have been hard to swallow. He thought that the Superiors
would not consider him mature enough to receive the habit. He tried to become better.
When at last, after a few months, he was allowed to receive the habit, he started the novitiate with
full joy of his spirit.
The novitiate, as the biographers say, was at that time so severe that “it could be compared to
the old monks in Egypt”. But for
Glicerius, everything seemed not to be enough; that is why thinking that the vigils and mortification were not hard enough
for him, he managed that they were continuous for him. But his physic did not resist for a long time. On September 20, 1617,
the day when the Diocese of Milan celebrated the feast of Saint Glicerius Landriani, archbishop of that city, the first symptom
manifestations of his sickness that would take him to the tomb in a few months, appeared.
He was subjected to futile and painful medical treatments. The sick person suffered everything without
complaining anything. He closed himself in a deep spiritual environment and it seemed that he did not take care of anything
the doctors were performing on him. Glicerius looked at the suffering as participation on the Cross.
It was on February 15, 1618. This day the sick person looked as if he had become better. He was able to get up and
to go to the chapel for Mass and he received Holy Communion. He was for a long tong time in prayer and then, the whole day,
kept silence. In the afternoon, his condition was worse. Everybody realized that Glicerius was going to die. The sad news
spread around Rome. By an order of the Pope, the Protector
Cardinal visited the novitiate and received from the lips of the dying Glicerius the Profession of the three vows of Chastity,
Poverty and Obedience.
Saint Joseph Calasanz went immediately to the side of Glicerius. The condition of the sick was grave,
and made him think that they don’t have many hopes. Therefore, being already late and arriving the time to go back home,
the holy Calasanz would not suffer to say goodbye. Would he find him alive tomorrow?
Al last, Calasanz went by his side and told him: “Fr Glicerius, be obedient, do not go without my permission”.
Glicerius, with his head said “yes”.
Knocking at the door.
After Calasanz left the room, the young Glicerius felt like dying. Dying? But he had promised not to
go without his permission…
There was around ten o’clock in the evening. After Calasanz arrived to the Pious Schools in San
Pantaleo, he started writing in his room. And he heard some knocking at the door and the voice of Fr. Glicerius telling him:
“Bless me, Father, that I go to Paradise”. Calasanz, after a few minutes of surprise,
he realized and said: “Go, Brother, and pray for me at the presence of the Lord”. The following morning, after
all the Religious were met in prayer, Calasanz narrated the case. While he was
talking, a notice from the novitiate came, telling about the death of Glicerius.
That was the last Obedience of Glicerius.
The road to the Altar
Therefore, now we know who Glicerius was. We have not said
anything about his zeal as a catechist and the many things that happened in his life, since we wanted to tell about his heroic
performance of the virtues and his union with Christ.
The cause of beatification of Glicerius was started two years after his death, that is to say, in 1620. Because of different reasons, still it is on the process. The church has only recognized
his heroic Christian virtues, but she has not allowed yet, the public cult.
We can see in the delay a sign of his humility and the free mortification that were characteristics of Glicerius Landriani.
Nevertheless, we hope that one day, his process of glorification would end in short and we might be able to see him with the
honors of the Altar. There are many that try to imitate him in his giving himself to others. Moreover, many, also, who invoke
his protection, telling us about the graces received from God through the intercession of this humble Piarist.